Donating Real Estate

Today TaxMama hears from Peggi in the TaxQuips Forum, with this problem. “I have a rental house that is in a distressed area.  I cannot get it rented, it keeps getting broken into.  I can donate the house to the LRA for a tax credit.  Would this be more beneficial than trying to sell it cheap, say like $10,000.  The house is worth about $40,000.”

Dear Peggi,

 That sounds like a tough position to be in.  But it does sound like a great place for a community association to be able to use, or make available for people who need lodging.  It probably won’t get broken into if someone is using the home.

 So, yes, it is a good idea to donate it.  You will need a formal appraisal from a qualified appraiser.

Perhaps you can negotiate that with your charity – to have them pick up the cost of the appraisal; or perhaps a member of their organization is an appraiser and can donate the service.

 The amount of your contribution will be the fair market value of the house –  perhaps $40,000.

 However, the amount you can actually deduct will be limited, based on a few factors:

  • The nature of the charity to whom you donate it 
  • Whether or not the property has appreciated in value since you bought it or inherited it.
  • Your own adjusted gross income for the year of the donation
  • Whether the year you donate it has an itemized deduction phase out
    • There is none THIS year.
    • There WILL be one next year.

However, any amount you cannot use this year will be carried forward to next year. You can read more about the limits in Chapter 2 of IRS Publication 526. And more about how contributions work, in general in the same pub.

I do urge you to sit down with a good tax professional who can work out the actual cash benefit of the donation for you.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about donating property and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

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